Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

If Coventry embodied the dark debacle that Phish and their scene had become by 2004, Festival 8 represented all that is right in the current world of Phish. The most accurate word I can use to describe Festival 8 is “paradise.” We had arrived at a tropical site of dreams, and the entire place was set up for our ease and comfort. When contrasting Coventry’s mud-covered clusterfuck with Indio’s days of delight, things couldn’t have felt more different.

To begin with, as we approached the gate with a caravan of five RVs, we expected to wait in some traffic. After sitting on roadways for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to enter previous festivals, this obstacle seemed like a given. But to our shock, we didn’t wait for one minute. After the thorough search for glass bottles and pounds of weed, the security let everyone through free of hassle. The only thing seized from any of our RVs were two glass-bottled Starbucks drinks. Onward and Upward!

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

After our team captain convinced the attendants to allow us to park in formation, we set up our home base within 45 minutes of approaching the main gates. Given maps upon entering, some exploration was in order. Prepared to walk a couple miles, everyone was pleasantly surprised to discover the concert field just around the corner from our campsite, about 100 times shorter than any festival walk in memory. The vibe of the Eight remained incredibly laid-back throughout the weekend, with well-behaved fans who appreciated the blissful setting. The entire event seemed like a Phish festival all grown-up. With amenities at every turn, shuttles to and from the lavish, nearby resorts, we certainly weren’t in Limestone anymore. Conducive to the band’s family-oriented atmosphere, the guys could hop back and forth between their loved ones and the festival in minutes.

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

The ease of Festival 8 seems to be the evolution of the Phish festival – easy access and hassle free. Providing a different feel from the absolute isolation of Limestone, this new model is quite  logical for the band’s place in time; just as Limestone defined the late ’90s. Virtually incomparable, Limestone possessed a Phishy magic that Indio could not. Just knowing what everyone had to do to reach the tip of America made those ritualistic weekends irreplaceable. The entire events were bigger, vaster, and more adventurous. We had our own city on the edge of the earth, and no one even knew. The unique majesty of those experiences will live inside us forever. But again, that was then and this is now. I’m not sure anyone who attended Festival 8 would have traded Indio for Limestone in a million years. Just as Phish and their fans continue to mature, and their music evolves, so will their signature events.

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

On top of everything else, the choice of locale – the Palm Springs desert – made the weekend flawless. With sunny days and cool evenings, the weather never intruded on our good times – something that can’t be said for virtually any other Phish festival. In addition, the site’s proximity to the highway provided easy access for the sundry artists, vendors and attractions. An amalgam of the Phishy spirit and the over-the-top west coast creativity of Burning Man, the art installations at Eight upped the ante from previous festivals, creating the feel of a psychedelic carnival. Throw in multiple bars, shade tents, countless couches, a jumbo-tron showing sporting events and movies, and golf cart taxis to get around the grounds, and this was most definitely not your father’s Phish festival!


Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Perhaps the biggest difference between Indio and Coventry is the utter joy engulfing the entire community these days. Back in ’04, we were there to celebrate a legacy – an irreplaceable time in our lives that was coming to a pre-mature end. And regardless of how much fun we had, the weekend possessed an irrefutable sadness.  Indio could not have been more opposite. With Phish back in 2009 – happy and on the rise again – everyone wore ear to ear smiles, and the positivity was absolutely infectious all weekend long. I never saw one incident, argument or bit of beligerence from anyone all weekend long, just people rejoicing to be back in the promised land.


Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

2001 > Curtain > Tweezer” 11.19.95


A standout sequence that kicked-off Charlotte’s second set along the road of Fall ’95.



Festival 8 (Photo: Russell Gibbs)



11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Torrent

11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Megaupload

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Making their tour of Florida universities, the band stopped at The University of South Florida a day after playing their legendary Orlando show the night before at The University of Central Florida, and three days after playing Gainesville. Amidst a tremendous run in the Sunshine State, a fierce “Mike’s Groove” holds down the second set of this show.

I: Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, Fast Enough for You, Rift, Prince Caspian, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, Sweet Adeline, The Squirming Coil

II: Wilson, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Life on Mars? > Weekapaug Groove, Fee, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

E: Suzy Greenberg

Notes: The band won the first chess game with the audience.

Source: Unknown

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435 Responses to “Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved”

  1. Marshall Says:

    Oh … and all signs are pointing to a “BDTH” encore at Cobo. It’s a lock.

  2. jdub Says:

    Phish has a way of creating perfect set and settings for that moment in time. In the late 90s Limestone was a galvanizing experience for both band and fans. To be able to draw 70,000 people to northern Maine pretty much meant the band had arrived and could really do anything they want, interesting how it went down hill from there. For the fans, creating a phantasy city way out there was damn cool and solidified our belief that this is a very special band.

    This time around Phish just wanted to create a soft, expansive playground to get intimately reacquainted with it’s fan base. Sounds like they nailed it. Having the festival in Oct meant a lot people couldn’t attend, lessening traffic and the intensity of it all.

    Great job by Phish and fans

  3. Robear Says:

    Traffic and questionable weather will keep lots of fans from heading back to places like Limestone or Coventry. Like many things the band has gone through, I say they leave those places in the past.

  4. Panda Says:

    Well said Miner!

    8, was that the best festival ever?

    Maybe the most fun, and absolutely the easiest. 33hrs for me to get into Coventry and NO traffic @ 8 and I came and went three times! Most laid back festival crowd ever. Mad space to dance everywhere.

    The music got better aqnd better and better. Party Time opener hell yeah and that 30th 2nd set WOW!
    They nailed Exile and those two Phish sets were highly engaging! 11-1 was keeper all the way through. The band ssounds different now and SO WHAT! The beauty of the moment is now with Phish!

    If they made us drive back up to one road NY, Vermont or Maine well, Miner I agree that was then and Indio is now!

    Hope we are getting down there in 2010!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Comrade Says:

    on a side note – email said that my joybox is finally shipping!

  6. Birddog Says:

    They will definately be doing a festival in NE again – bottom line is that 70k fans generates alot more cash that 30k

  7. beepaphone Says:

    Joy box? Sounds like something from the days of yore.

  8. Robear Says:

    Sweet photo, Uncle Eb! I didn’t catch your last name, nice work.

  9. beepaphone Says:

    I enjoy festival lines, as long as they are under 8 hours…had some pretty good, crazy times waiting to get in. Not saying I wouldn’t trade it for quick entry, but they can be appreciated.

  10. Panda Says:

    “bottom line is that 70k fans generates alot more cash that 30k”

    and A LOT more headaches!

    I hope it’s not all about cash. Phish must have made money at 8. I estimate at least 250,000 each. What do you think?

    I do agree that the NE will again have a festival. I just hope that Indio sticks around for a while. How will they top that and will they try remains to be seen. 2010!!!!!!

  11. Robear Says:

    Time to shave, back to substitute teaching today!

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    so let’s say they have put Limestone and other previously visited festival locales to bed…

    Assuming they are going to do another festival, where do they do it?
    Another decommissioned air force base?
    Another place like Indio?
    A different, established venue for festivals?
    Geographically, where do they do it?

    They obviously know how well things went in Indio and will want to replicate that type of experience if they can. I’m curious if they would look to some place here in the East which can provide something of a similar experience. After writing that last sentence, I realize that may not be easy when factoring in weather and other considerations. I’ve been to a bunch of bluegrass and other festivals that had great facilities, but I haven’t been anywhere quite like what we just experienced.

  13. sumodie Says:

    Limestone is irreplaceable in my mind -the remote wildness, the free wheeling energy, the sense of being on top of the earth surrounded by big sky. Watching the IT and Ball (I know, that’s Plattsburgh, NY) DVDs really bring back the memories of why Phish cannot forgo returning to northern Maine. BC is certainly a valid substitute.

    [Coventry does’t count for anything, other than being a sign from above that the phish experience was not supposed to end, although it did need a break. I hold nothing against the band for Coventry.]

    And now Indio is irreplaceable, for all the reasons cited by Miner and the rest of us. In good time I suspect the band will return to both locations. Let’s hope they learn to give better notice so more folks can arrange their plans accordingly.

    @freshtracks: Miami is most definitely on for me. I skip neither festivals nor NYEs, especially in Miami. Just gotta acquire that 4-pack of tix and I’m set.

  14. Marshall Says:

    Yes, 75K tickets sold generates more revenue that 35K, but profit and margin are unknowns.

    BUT, I don’t think Phish puts on Festivals to make money. I’m sure management is concerned, but I would be that the four of them would be willing to take a loss on a yearly festival, knowing they make boatloads of cash through the other avenues, in order to pay back fans and keep things lively.

    They may not do another festival for a while. Nothing requires it. Halloween shows went missing for several years, so can festis. But I did like Indio and would enjoy going back.

    Next time I’m taking my sticks and playing golf with Butter one of the days.

  15. JMelby Says:

    Easy to get tix for 8, easy entry, 10 min walk from our RV’s to front of soundboard, great weather, a late night beer call for Tom Marshall and time in his RV w/ the Dude of Life. Birds flying through the palm trees behind the stage. 40,000 over 75,000; I think I’ll take Indio over Limestone.

  16. SOAM Says:

    with the new management-the delay of fall tour announcement and the concern over lack of ticket sales-I doubt they will do it in CA again.

    Maybe they do 2 fest’s bookending summer tour-one east and one west..

    I am building them a pyramid-with limestone blocks so large in Northern New Hampshire..

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Excellent thoughts, Señor Miner!

    Lest we all forget there was an overwhelming sense of US I felt throughout the festival and it wasn’t from altered states, but rather those transcendant moments that all who attended felt when talking to a stranger about whatever, but enjoying the convo or being blown away by the music, or being altered. The sense of connectedness was something I couldn’t shake all weekend. Everyone seemend to be having a great time because pretty much everyone else wnated them and themselves to have a great time.

    Friday AM, after partying with the neighbors until nearly 4AM, I woke up and stretched at 8 and by 8:30 I had rallied my wife, the wife of Couple B in our RV and my friend a gasrider camped in a tent next to us, to all go for a jog around the entire perimeter of the site. So as I am concluding the lap (5 miles) I see a jogger coming the other way no one look festivarian but we smiling acknowledgingly and high fived either other in passing, not a word was said but smiles ear to ear. It felt great! I’d like to hear other impressions on this.

    That’s the US. That’s what makes this community so special we all know still know a lot that They don’t.

    Not that is about US or Them, but we make a difference together.

    When they do Indio again(Spring Break time some year) I’d be down for some extended landscaping, err golf.

  18. Marshall Says:

    Also, consider the difference in ticket prices … I think it was something like $75 for two days of Clifford Ball versus $201 for F8. That’s a pretty hefty increase (about 80% when number of days are factored in).

  19. whole tour! Says:

    easy access is a great concept, no doubt.

    but the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere with your favorite band and 100k friends can’t be topped. 18hours of traffic for cypress and it was worth it.

  20. Marshall Says:

    If there are real prospects of 18 hours of traffic ever again … I’ll stay home and stream it.

  21. jdub Says:

    A field in an iowa corn field would be the spot, whole new meaning to field of dreams.

    Seriously though, I could see the do a midwest festival in 2010 at the end of a short Midwest run.

    They’ll make it back east and will probably try to perfect the northeast festival at a farm somewhere in upstate new York

  22. BTB Says:

    From here on out, the band will definitely replicated the 8 experience. Whether it be at the POLO fields or something similar.

    I am OK with leaving Limestone in the past. Let’s move forward together. The music is all that matters anyway

    @Family Bezerker – I feel you on that high five story. That’s what IT’s all about.

  23. Marshall Says:

    With all the talk of “meet-ups” recently, I was reminded of a Phish.net review I read one time. Here’s the except review of night two of The Roxy shows in Atlanta (1993). Main reason I post is for the reviewer’s use of “netters” (I guess these guys were using a Usenet group back then?).

    From: brian.feller@um.cc.umich.edu
    Subject: Atlanta Review
    Reply-To: brian.feller@um.cc.umich.edu
    Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1993 19:31:45 GMT

    Second night: Let it all hang out
    Set I: The net gathering at the Mellow Mushroom didn’t really
    happen. Ellis and his
    friend Kristen(sp?) were there, but other than that I didn’t meet or see
    any netters there.
    The Mellow Mushroom was nice. They had 34 beers on draught, plus another
    60 in bottle
    to choose from. What a dilema! I had a black and tan and a Woodpecker
    Cider, both were
    wonderful. Made it to the venue by 7:45 and were let in soon after. The
    floor was much
    more crowded Saturday night, partly due to a door rush that occured when
    someone threw
    open a side door. The first set highlights for me were Sloth, possum, and
    Everything was played extremely well, so itUs hard to single anything out
    for me. It was
    really nice to be with our beloved Shelly and Matt Laurence for this show,
    and all three of
    us had our writing pads out like the diligent netters we are;-> On to set

  24. sumodie Says:

    Also, consider the difference in ticket prices … I think it was something like $75 for two days of Clifford Ball versus $201 for F8.

    I suspect the price increase isn’t that great if you factor in inflation and the third day. Where’s our economists?

  25. jdub Says:

    Or the Phish family could decide a relaxing European vacation is in order and set up camp for a week in some exotic locale.

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